Busting unions will destroy nation’s middle class

Published 12:13 am Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ohioans better take note of what’s going on in Wisconsin, because we are next. The Newly elected Wisconsin republican governor has proposed a bill to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees. These include school teachers, nurses, city, county and municipal workers, and policemen.

Veiled by the country’s rush to reduce debt and curtail spending, the governor is using the crisis in an attempt to break the unions. Regardless of your opinion of unions, love them or hate them, the fact is that labor unions created our middle class.

The unions established the 40 hour work week, fair pay for a reasonable day’s work, vacations, work place safety and protected our children from child labor abuses.

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This is not someone’s opinion; it’s our nation’s history.

The poverty level for a family of four is generally recognized as $21,000. Middle class income is generally recognized as $37,000 to $75,000. Upper middle class is generally recognized as $76,000 to $166,000 per year.

If you break down the yearly income into an hourly wage, a $10 an hour wage will result in a $20,000 a year in income, on average. That means if you consider yourself middle class then your household income should be provided by jobs that pay a total of $18.50 an hour up to $37.50 an hour.

It was in 1983 that the numbers of unionized workers began to decrease in our country. At that time about 20 percent of our work force was unionized. Today less than 11 percent is unionized, about half.

During this same period, the salary gap between the CEO and the lowest paid employee of a company widened significantly. In 1983 the average CEO earned 50 times more than the lowest paid employee of the same company.

Today that gap is over 550 times. That means that about half way through the first work day in a year, the CEO of that company has earned more than the lowest paid employee will earn for the entire year.

If you consider yourself a member of the working middle class, and you want to remain there, then you better start paying attention to what our government is doing. If you believe that labor unions are dinosaurs and need to go away, then you better study our history and the trends over the last 25 years.

If Wisconsin is successful in breaking the public unions, Ohio will be next. This trend is not a natural evolution of our work force. This trend is being directed, and financed by some of the richest and most powerful people that you’ve never heard of.

The recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed businesses to make unlimited, anonymous contributions to our politicians, set the stage for the ultra rich to destroy our unions, and eventually, our middle class.

Paul Carman